According to Gartner, Salesforce.com has the largest market share in CRM in the world. One might think that means that the journey to a cloud-enabled sales force is well underway. However, a cloud-based CRM is only the first in a newly developing set of opportunities to empower today’s highly mobile, distributed, agile and data-driven sales teams. It’s only when the cloud CRM is integrated with other business applications and data and when the reality of the mobile worker is truly embraced that the true revenue-generating potential of these solutions is unleashed.
The true promise of CRM
Executives embraced the idea of CRM because of the promise of a 360-degreeview of the customer and a single version of the truth. Cloud-based CRM solutions like Salesforce.com, available from anywhere, anytime, are certainly a good step in reaching this intelligence nirvana, but alone can only go so far. Integration with other business applications is the key to this vision.
One powerful example is the business telephone system. When the CRM is integrated with the phone system, call record details can be added to contact records to reveal the true history of your team’s interaction with prospects and customers. Incoming call screen pops let your representatives know who’s on the phone and why before they pick up the call. With the most advanced solutions, voicemail messages can be transcribed and added to contact records as an activity and representatives can transfer the workspace along with the call.
If you think about it, the telephone system and the CRM are your two most powerful revenue-generating weapons. Why shouldn’t they work together?
The list of integrations made possible by cloud technology is long and includes marketing automation, social networks, customer advocacy solutions, corporate learning systems and many more. Smart sales leaders and CIOs will spend more time than ever before looking for ways to put their key tools in a single toolbox.
The mobility reality
Sales people have always been mobile, but it’s only in the last few years that mobile devices have made work and interaction with business systems possible from anywhere. In fact, according to Secure Edge, 78 percent of companies say there are more than twice as many personal devices connecting to corporate networks now than compared to two years ago. Given that, it’s no wonder many IT experts believe that mobility will change IT more than the Internet did.
The good news is that your sales force is already walking around with a little cloud in their pocket. The bad news is that interactions with customers done on mobile devices can fall into a black hole of lost records.
Truly cloud-enabling your sales force requires a mobility solution that is as integrated with your core business systems, particularly CRM, as everything else. Records of calls made from a mobile device, for example, should be available in the CRM like every other call. Personal mobile phone numbers should never be used to make or receive business calls, and a mobile sales representative should be as easy to reach (with four digits) as everyone else in the office.
The cloud makes this possible. A truly connected team with a 20/20 view of activities that drive sales and delight clients. Modern sales executives should expect nothing less.
Amber Newman is senior manager of marketing communications for ShoreTel’s Cloud Division, providers of brilliantly simple unified communications solutions. She has spent her career exploring how decisions to purchase business-to-business technology solutions are made. Currently, she is working with the ShoreTel team to develop content that helps companies understand what it takes to adjust to today’s mobile, social, agile and modern rhythm of work. Follow her on Twitter @ambernewman.